Thank you to everyone who has commented on my last post. I could spend all day answering some of these points, and it's really made me think.
And... I have also decided what to offer in the giveaway! (see below)
Last night I went to the annual Yearbook Launch of the British Guild of Travel Writers, to catch up with friends and trends. My phone photos are terrible but here's an impression of the slightly surrealistic atmosphere this year. The showgirls are NOT a regular feature of the Yearbook launch, but a reminder that Las Vegas Tourism will be sponsoring the Guild's annual dinner. The girls were actually making themselves useful by selling raffle tickets for the Guild's 2012 travel-related charity, Shelterbox, which provides boxed emergency tents and supplies for people affected by disasters worldwide. A very good, yet very simple thing.
The speaker here is Noel Josephides, boss of Sunvil Holidays. He's very interested in ethical and green issues involving the travel industry, and is a Greek Cypriot. He was suggesting that Guild members visit Greece, whose financial troubles have been in the news, and whose holiday trade has been affected by the recent troubles in Athens.
I always take Foreign Office advice when travelling, and of course I take great care - but otherwise never worry if I am visiting somewhere there's been some domestic disruption. I can remember how people shunned Britain during the IRA bombings, and the idea of avoiding the entire Lake District or Cotswolds just because of scattered events in London seemed pretty strange to those of us actually living here. I would guess the most difficult thing in Greece at present is likely to be strikes and falldown in services, but most resorts would do all they can minimise the effects of these.
Anyway, T and I had already started planning a Greek trip, paying our own way and not writing about it. A real holiday, not work. More of that later, perhaps.
Anyway, the giveaway. I've decided to take up the suggestion of giving items relating to places I've been. I usually pick up small items which I use as stocking fillers at Christmas, or just like the look of. Some are old, some are new. I like them all, but they sit around the house. I love them, but I need to de-clutter.
I've got 10 items and I've decided to give away one or two items from the list to the lucky winner. I don't mind which two items. Some are cheap, some expensive, some old and some new. So if you want to enter the giveaway, this is what you have to do.
First, leave a comment here and say which two items you would like to win, and why. (Or, if you'd prefer to win just one item, say that).
Second, please tell other people about the giveaway - tweet it, FB, link from your own blog, or just tell your friends to come and have a go. I won't be checking up on you but hope you will :)
The closing date is midnight on the 16th of March 2012.
Please don't leave an address or email address on your comment. If you win, I'll contact you and ask you for your mailing details.
(I'll let S choose the winner. He's 10, and quite responsible.)
So here are the giveaways, in no order.
1. A large bar of white chocolate from GERMANY
It is studded with "Ahoj"-Brauseperlen (perhaps some German readers can explain what these are).(** Meike just did: see "Librarian"'s comment below).
A little publicised bonus of shopping in Germany is the chance to pick up all kinds of chocolate bars in unusual flavours, and some of the bars are very unusual and decorative. Expiry date, July 2012.
2. A vintage tea caddy spoon from ENGLAND.
This probably dates from the 1950s, about 3 inches long, (10 cm) plated brass, not bad condition, and it's to sit in your caddy of loose leaf tea, so extremely "English". It's made of lacquered brass, and the little enamelled bit at the top shows the old Devonshire song about Uncle Tom Cobleigh at Widdicombe Fair (click the name if you want to find out the words and tune)
Tom Pearse, Tom Pearse, lend me your grey mare
All along, down along, out along lee
For I want for to go to Widdicombe Fair
With Bill Brewer, Jan Stewer, Peter Gurney
Peter Day, Harry Hawkm Daniel Whiddon,
And old uncle Tom Cobleigh and all,
etc. etc. It's a great song, with a great tune.
3. Also from ENGLAND, a Royal Ascot souvenir pen.
Actually this was given to me at a press event, and, as it is a Parker, it is probably a good one. But since I got it as a giveaway myself, it feels a bit cheap and stingy to give it as a gift to loved ones, specially since none of them have any interest in horse-racing.
But, Royal Ascot is a huge event in the upper-class toffs' social calendar, it's a wonderful day out for people who do like horse racing, and the amazing hats worn by some of the female racegoers are legendary. And of course, our horse-loving Queen is a huge fan. So if any of that appeals to you, this may be quite the pen.
4. A teeny tiny pack of De Ruijter sprinkles from THE NETHERLANDS.
These are popular at breakfast, and characteristic of Holland. When I first visited Holland, as a kid, I was amazed to see people making chocolate sandwiches, drinking beer and sprinkling this stuff over the bread-and-butter at breakfast. They don't do breakfasts like that in England.
5. Also from THE NETHERLANDS, a secondhand book (in English) published in 1945, when Holland was just emerging from World War 2. It shows the place as it was in those days, in some very nice black and white photos. A bit battered, but interesting.
6. A small trial-size bottle of "Smyrnio" ouzo from GREECE.
7. A 250 g (8 oz) box of chocs from SPAIN.
These are very nice and very popular, but I warn you they are an acquired taste. If you like those particularly Spanish style sticky cakes, sweets and pastries, you'll probably like these. If you go for severe ascetic chocolate, you'll probably hate them.
8. A souvenir of the Stela of Penbuwy from EGYPT.This is made of papier mache and it's about 3 inches long, so it is quite light. It is full of very interesting imagery. The worshipper at the bottom right is praying to the god Ptah (top left), who is listening (as you can see by the ears arrayed next to him.) The bottom left image shows an embrace, which symbolises a complicated idea about soul, power and the transfer of power from the god. On the top right, are offerings.
The original stela is in the British Museum, and it is coloured, not gold, but this is a nice little decorative item to hang on a wall. In fact, the original stela was found at Deir el Medina, a village where the workmen who worked on the tombs in the Valley of the Kings lived. It's been partly excavated and it's certainly a hot, bleak place, as you see from my photo. Ptah is a god from Memphis, so perhaps the stela's original owner was also from there, a long way from home.
9. Some guest soaps from FRANCE
They're by the gorgeous Roger and Gallet and I snapped them up at a good price in a Paris department store. I love Roger and Gallet stuff, both the scents and the packaging. Then, I put them in a drawer where they sat and sat and sat. Because we don't use guest soaps.
They've been waiting for their big moment for such a long time that some of the fragrance may have left them now - or they may be fine, because R & G is such a classy brand. I don't know, but they're pristine and unopened, anyhow.
10. Finally this funny little Coqui tree frog pin from PUERTO RICO.
It's only about an inch long in real life. This pin is smaller than that, perhaps half an inch. If you want the real name, it's Eleutherodactylus Portorricensis. Not a valuable bit of jewellery, just a inexpensive but cute pin.
And here are the terms and conditions of the giveaway.
The giveaway is open free of charge to readers of this blog, worldwide, and the closing date is midnight GMT 16 March 2012 . Entrants should make a link of some kind to this blog by whatever means suits them best, and leave a post on the blog stating which one or two items they would like to win. Winners will be asked to supply their mailing address after the draw takes place. The winning entry will be chosen by S after the closing date. I can only mail items where permitted by Customs. One entry per person.. Automated entries will be deleted.
I hope I've done this right, and I hope at least some of these items will hit the spot with some of you.